Monday March 04, 2019

Intel Spotlights Quantum Computing Research

At the American Physical Society meeting in Boston this year, Intel is highlighting several of the advances they've made in the field of quantum computing. Between Monday and Thursday this week, Intel will hold several talks on things ranging to 49-qubit processors, the testing of qubits on 300mm wafers, bottlenecks that can be solved by quantum computers, and even a technique for cramming more quantum bits into a smaller area with through-silicon-vias, which is the same technology used to connect HBM memory stacks to underlying interposers. But what stood out to me most was Intel's focus on commercialization. Many research papers on quantum computing focus on the theoretical, and what could be built at some unspecified time in the future, once the engineering hurdles are worked out. Intel has their fair share of theoretical work too, but several of their talks focus on mass producing and testing quantum computers on 300mm wafers, which represents a huge step towards making quantum computing more affordable. In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Intel's Rich Uhlig reiterated this point, claiming that the chip company is focusing on technology to make commercial products rather than trying to build demonstrators with big numbers.

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At Intel, we're focused on developing a commercially viable quantum computer, which will require more than the qubits themselves. We have successfully manufactured a 49-qubit superconducting chip, which allows us to begin integrating the quantum processing unit (the QPU) into a system where we can build all of the components that will be required to make the qubits work together in tandem to improve efficiency and scalability. Instead of focusing on the hype of qubit count, we are working to create a viable quantum system that will scale from 50 qubits to the millions of qubits that will be required for a commercial system.

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